Post Prayer Speech 1947-10-22
Post Prayer Meeting Speech by Mahatma Gandhi
Previous Speech: 1947-10-21
Next Speech: 1947-10-23
Location: Birla Bhavan, New Delhi
Annotation from Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi
CWMG, Volume 89, No. 384, Page 385
BROTHERS AND SISTERS,
First of all let me inform you that blankets continue to come. I have just come to know that two hundred blankets have arrived today. The blankets and also money arrive every day. I hope that the people who are in the camps here will have enough things to cover themselves with. More of them will be available. It is good that there is this much generosity still left in our people.
A gentleman approached me. I hardly ever read any Urdu newspaper, not to speak of reading it daily. I do read Urdu but only with some difficulty. When a child has to learn his alphabet he starts reading gradually. I am in a similar position. I know a little more than a child, but I cannot read fast. So that gentleman read out to me a couple of items from an Urdu newspaper. I was pained to hear the contents. I do not intend to narrate the details. The newspaper stated that people had made up their minds. I hope it is only the editor of that paper and not the whole country that has resolved that all Muslims should migrate to Pakistan and that those who remain will be either slaughtered or sent away to Pakistan. If things turn out to be what this paper or its editor predicts, it will be a matter of great shame. Such things should not have come from the pen of an editor. Such newspapers should not be published at all. If that editor is convinced about what he says, he is free to express his view to the people. But when he does so, it would amount to proclaiming from the house-tops that the Muslims should either go away to Pakistan or they will be slaughtered. As I said yesterday, what Hindus would do when the Muslims went away to Pakistan? Would they fight among themselves? Somebody has informed me that internal fights have already started. This is inevitable. Once one has a taste of killing, one can’t resist the temptation. The same thing is going to happen to us. But the editor of that paper has not been wise in publishing his opinion. Our people have become crazy after newspapers. They are not concerned with the Gita or the Bible or the Koran; the newspaper is their Gita and whatever is published in newspapers is gospel truth for them. It is very unfortunate that people should be so gullible that newspapers exploit their credulity and publish such things. I do not wish to say any more about this.
Now another thing is that complaints are pouring in from all corners. It may have been that during the British days the native States acted as they liked. The British Government exercised some control. This had to be done for the maintenance of the Empire. But now that Government is no more. Today their department is in the hands of Sardar Patel; so let him do something. But what can poor Sardar do under the circumstances? He has his own way of saying things. He has always served India. That is why he is the Sardar. But he has neither arms nor army in his possession. He is not a man of the army in any case. He is no commander whose order would be automatically obeyed. So long as the soldiers think that they eat the salt of India and he is their master, that is, if they consider him to be a great servant [of the people], things will go right.
Now the Princes of the States say that they have signed the instruments of accession, but that does not mean that they have been deprived of anything. They too have got their police. They were mere puppets during the British rule, but they are no longer so. The States can do anything they want. I too belong to a State. Hence I know what the States can do, and how much good they can do. I wish very respectfully to tell the Princes of the States that they cannot hope to survive if they think in their arrogance that they can beat up their subjects and slaughter them. I have told them that the Princes will have a place for themselves if they remain trustees of their subjects. If they want to be the rulers of their people and exploit them and oppress them, they will find no place for themselves. I have no doubt about it. God alone knows what the situation in India is going to be. The Princes do not have an alternative. They can never rule India, even if we become slaves. Would the Princes like to become slaves then? The days when the rulers could act arbitrarily are gone. That was another age. The British rulers found good use of the Princes who were there, through whom they could rule. The British only acted in their self-interest. How then are they to blame? But it is our misfortune that today we have lost our heads and fight among ourselves. Whichever side wins, a third power or a few of the powers would get together and devour India. Along with India the Princes, too, would be devoured. If they remain loyal to India and become servants of their people, it will be well. I would say to the people of the States that they should not be cowards. What if the Princes possess arms and they are unarmed? We too fought against the Empire. And we were unarmed then. We did not possess any arms secretly. Had it been so, I should have had some information about it. Millions of people fought against the Empire with the force of their conviction. We thought even if they killed, they might kill one lakh, two or even three lakhs. But how many could they have killed after all? It was a question of population of 400 millions. Their hands would have trembled if they had set out to kill all of us. These 400 million were bound to win their independence. What we do with that freedom is another matter. I would say that the Princes should not lose their heads. They should realize that they cannot act arbitrarily and lead immoral lives. They must not drown themselves in alcohol all day long. I have conveyed my view to you and through you to the Princes.
I mentioned once that Dussehra was coming soon. And Bakr-Id is just the day after it. These two festivals almost coincide. The Hindus and the Muslims are always filled with fear during these days. There is a greater scare here today because excesses can be only on one side. If Hindus get excited and think that they have got their chance because of Bakr-Id, they can slaughter the Muslims thinking they were celebrating Dussehra. What is Dussehra? That is the day for celebrating Rama’s victory. It is said that on the Ekadashi Rama and Bharata would be reunited. By these things we have to learn restraint and goodness. We have to learn what is dharma. If we learn this we can celebrate Dussehra in the right spirit. Durga Puja is conducted on the Dussehra day. What does worship of Durga imply? It does not mean that we should be bloodthirsty. Durga signifies shakti, great power. We can raise ourselves by worshipping her.
Similarly, Dussehra does not mean that we should have fun and entertainment throughout the day. In Gujarat this festival is called Navaratri¹. When we were young my mother used to tell us that we should not have regular meals during the Navaratri. We could have fruit or at the most milk, but no solid food. Of course the best thing would have been to observe complete fast. My mother used to undertake fasts quite often, and I could hardly compete with her. My elder brother could not do it at all, though I tried to do it a little. But considering my mother’s capacity to fast I am a mere toy, just a child. That is the significance of Dussehra for us. Later, when Diwali comes, we can eat nice things and enjoy ourselves, but none of these things during Dussehra. This is the meaning of Navaratri. Shall we abandon its essence and start killing? Then there is Bakr-Id. We have frightened away our Muslim fellowmen. There are nice people among them. Even the nationalist Muslims are very much upset at the moment. They are aware of the situation. But where can they go? Should we become so heartless as to drive away even these people? What sort of peace would we have then?
Are you going to annihilate all the three-and-a-half or four crore Muslims? Or would you like to convert them to Hinduism? But even that would be a kind of annihilation. Supposing you were so pressurized, would you agree to become Muslims? Supposing you were forced to read the Kalma and threatened with death if you refused? I would be the first person to say that they might rather cut our throats than suggest this. We must have at least that much courage. It is senseless to ask Muslims to accept Hinduism like this. I don’t want such Hindus. Am I going to save Hinduism with the help of such Hindus? I want Hindus who can exercise restraint. Why should I be so arrogant and ruthless? One cannot become a tyrant and follow dharma at the same time. On these two occasions therefore let us maintain peace and atone for our sins and meet each other as brothers. If you can do this much, you will not find me here after Id.
A Hindu gentleman has asked me if I would go to the Punjab. I asked him if he would send me to the Punjab. Yes, if I went there I would fight with the people there also. You already know about my method of fighting. I would talk to them to my heart’s content. Millions of Hindus and Sikhs are coming here. Why do they not stay on in their homes? I shall have no peace till this happens. Then Muslims have to be brought back here. You may say that that cannot be done. According to me that can be done and the key to the situation lies in Delhi. I do hope that during those two days we prove that both the Hindus and the Muslims are good and are going to live together in harmony.
Prarthana Pravachan-I, pp. 447-52
- 1. The nine days preceding Dussehra
Uploaded by Public.Resource.Org
Audio courtesy of Gandhi Heritage Portal from All India Radio
Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (CWMG) from The Publications Division of Government of India with kind permission of Navajivan Trust, Ahmedabad